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Community / Land projects / 14CONFAP: Implications of enhanced ecological intensification and resilience for smallholder farming in the ea

14CONFAP: Implications of enhanced ecological intensification and resilience for smallholder farming in the ea


01/15 - 12/15


This project is part of


The former 'arc of deforestation' of peripheral Amazonia is dominated by extensive pastures and slash-and-burn shifting cultivation. These land management interventions have resulted in severe environmental degradation, restricted agricultural productivity and caused rural poverty. As populations continue to rise, there is a clear need for a more ecologically sustainable intensification of smallholder agriculture with high eco-efficiency and low external inputs. This project aims to create a new research partnership to tackle biodiversity and ecosystems resilience and assess the impacts of ecological intensification (more productive, reduced input sustainable systems) on smallholder farming at the eastern fringe of Amazonia. We will focus on four key priority areas namely: i) landscape ecology; ii) soil carbon and nutrient management; iii) global change biology and iv) conservation and biodiversity. i) Landscape ecology: Ecological intensification of agriculture requires an appreciation of how ecosystem processes at the landscape-scale can be integrated with existing smallholder farming systems, priorities and constraints. Key questions that need to be addressed include: 1) how should forests be managed to deliver optimal livelihood and environmental benefits? and 2) how can we ensure that forest management at the interface with neighbouring farming systems is sustainable and not over-exploited by farming communities? ii) Carbon and nutrients Traditional smallholder farming relies on low input strategies and future efforts must strive to increase resilience to minimize external risks. Sustainable low-input agriculture is difficult to achieve in the humid tropics, due to a combination of factors that reduce nutrient-efficiencies of crops. Key questions to be considered include: 1) how does smallholder land management impact on soil quality and 2) how can soils best be restored? iii) Global change biology Global changes at field, regional and global scales are transforming agriculture and socio-economics and we urgently require a better understanding of the processes and patterns involved. The key questions to be addressed here are: 1) to what extent can crop management mitigate against environment change-related stresses such as droughts, flooding? and 2) what is the short- and long-term effect of salinity intrusions into freshwater wetlands? iv) Conservation and use of biodiversity Biodiversity is essential to the sustainable management of ecosystems. Key questions to include: 1) how might forest wastes benefit farming systems; and 4) how does biodiversity provide more resilience to agricultural landscapes to cope with extreme events?


The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with developing countries across the world to promote the economic development and social welfare of the partner countries.

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